I broke my personality.
So today is world mental health day, a specific day in the year where all the bloggers who have had mental health struggles or have them currently come out in full force to write about it. Turns out this year I am one of those bloggers.
I am not critiquing, in fact I think its important that as many people as feel strong enough talk about there experiences without shame or fear. What disappoints me is that we are in a society that needs a specific day to do this. However, thats not what I was going to write about, thats a whole other rant for a different time.
I didn’t know what I was going to write about for today, I had a few ideas floating around in my brain, but I thought on a a day which aims to raise awareness and combat misunderstanding, I am in a position of being diagnosed with what I believe, is one of the most misunderstood illnesses. I am diagnosed with an illness that a lot of people haven’t really heard off. When I talk about it and give it its name I’m often met by ‘what is that’ or ‘how does that effect you’ or in a few cases ‘I thought that was just a made up thing for films.’
So heres what Im going to do, I’m going to tell you about the signs and symptoms of having Emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder (BPD) the ones straight from a text book, then I’ll tell you what they actually feel like, well what they feel like for me. Personality disorders are a spectrum, so it feels and looks different for every person.
A quick google of BPD brings up this diagnostic criteria on the NHS website
Lets just focus on that label shall we, how off-putting does that sound. ‘Hi I’m Naomi and I’m officially unstable.’ That been said, I am unstable, my mood changes rapidly based on seemingly insignificant events. The smallest comment can boost my mood or cut it down. The littlest event can send me into panic. The tiniest compliment can spark hypermania. I have worked to contain my mood changes so people who haven’t known me through my ‘severely broken brain’ stage may not register them and I can have decent relationships and day to day experiences. That being said, I can register them. I know that my mood cycles haven’t changed that much, and, to be honest there isn’t a ‘cure’ for BPD so I am aware that they will for the rest of my life. That is a hard pill to swallow, it’s also fucking exhausting. On days I’m finding it harder to contain my mood changes, these are the things you might notice.
- Going from talkative and funny and over exaggerated to silent in seconds.
- Being unable to concentrate.
- Finding it difficult to string a sentence together.
- Being unable to follow a conversation.
- Being forgetful.
- Coming across as ditsy, or dumb.
- Smoking a lot more.
- Appearing lazy or frequently saying ‘I can’t be fucked’
Disturbed Patterns of thinking or perception.
This phrase covers a lot of different elements of BPD. It covers paranoia, intrusive thoughts, negative thinking and psychosis. Here are some of the common BPD thoughts I have.
- What is the point… in anything?
- Everyone hates me.
- The world would be better if I wasn’t in it.
- I made a mistake, I fuck up everything.
- People always leave, no one thinks Im worth staying around for.
This section of diagnostic criteria also covers the bizarre aspects of having BPD. It is a comment trait for those with BPD to experience elements of psychosis when there emotions are to intense. Lets have a look at some of the Gems I’ve come out with while in that state shall we. Feel free to laugh, I do.
- ‘Am I the devil?’
- ‘If I really put my mind to it and pray hard, I think I could stop ISIS’
- ‘That earthquake that happened was obviously my fault because I said something horrible.’
- ‘I can’t answer my door, theres a man with a chainsaw on the other side.’
Disassociation is also a common trait of BPD, and probably the thing that I still struggle with most, but I also don’t know how to explain it. Its basically like your brain goes to auto pilot. I can still finish tasks I can still function, but I’m not thinking. I don’t know whats real. Everything feels like that stage when your falling asleep, when your not quite asleep and your still registering part of what is going on, but your on the edge.
Impulsive behavior is simple really. Its all fun and games until you come round and have to suffer the consequences. It can be anything, shopping, gambling, sexual behaviors, drinking, self harm, suicide, the list goes on. For me impulsive behavior comes in two elements. The first is all about what will make me happy, or what will make me feel better in the moment without taking into account the consequences. Like I feel shit so I’m going to go spent all my pay check in one go. Or Im bored and its taking me into a and place so I’m going to drink until I’m passed out.
Then theres another element, perhaps a more difficult element. Which is intrusive impulsions. In English that means that I have thoughts about self harm and suicide that come out of no where. I can be perfectly happy and have a really good day, then suddenly my brain is like ‘why don’t you stop the car and jump off that bridge’ or I can be feeling sorry for myself but dealing with it and my brain says things like ‘hey, self harm, that was fun.’
Intense but unstable relationships with others.
This is an interesting one for me. I tend to not notice a relationship is unhealthy till its to late and I’ve already done some damage. A big part of BPD is fear of abandonment. Sometimes that makes me act in obsessive and dramatic ways. I also rely on certain people. I, luckily haven’t had friendships break down because of this, but that is not due to my behavior its due to the strength and compassion of the friends around me.
But, it means that my brain works over time.
Don’t answer one of my texts? Its because you aren’t really my friend. Cancel our plans? Its because you hate me. Don’t talk to me for a day? Its because you don’t really care.
Or thats what my brain tells me anyway.
The problem with BPD.
There are so many problems with the way BPD is viewed and treated. I have had my share of shit experiences in official capacities and in my interaction with people. BPD is seen as an incurable illness, there are no meds that will stop it and therapy has limited responses. It also has one of the highest suicide rates of all mental illnesses. 2-3% of the population have BPD. 10% of these people will die by suicide and 80% of people with BPD will attempt suicide. There are failings in our mental health systems, and most of these come down to funding, why fund treatment for a disorder with no cure? Well, I can say recovery is possible, when its done in the right way. It takes time, and effort and its exhausting and its slow. But things can gradually get better, and relapses become just relapses.
So lets talk about it, because shame is never going to lead to recovery.